UN Leaders Programme (UNLP)

UN Leaders Programme (UNLP)

UN leaders and their partners are expected to provide aspirational guidance and practical solutions to the complex challenges that our world is facing. The rapid pace of change in today’s world means that the best leaders are the ones who approach their leadership practice with a 'growth mindset'. In an effort to continue building leadership capacity, and in response to the call by the UN High-Level Committee on Management’s (HLCM) for the College to revamp its learning offerings for senior managers, UNSSC launched the UN Leaders Programme in 2009. 

The programme’s objective and outcomes were informed by a 2007 pilot programme and an advisory group of 10 UN agency representatives. A proposal was submitted to the UN High-Level Committee on Management and a new learning programme – “UN Leaders Programme” was later approved. Targeted at senior UN system managers at directors, the programme differed at the time from many Staff College programmes in that it included headquarters as well as country-level staff. The programme focused on the global challenges that the UN faces, and the roles and responsibilities of senior UN staff in addressing those challenges regardless of their particular function or agency affiliation. The first UN Leaders Programme, held in May of that year, was a highly creative hybrid of theory, practice and self-reflection. Thematically focused to address the issue of climate change as one of the key priorities of the UN system, the programme received an approval rating of 4.9 out of 5. The second cohort focussed “Leadership, Ethics and Accountability”, in November of that year, and three additional editions were delivered in 2010. 

Over the years, the programme has been held in New York, Geneva, Turin, Bangkok, and Nairobi, to name a few locations. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the programme had to be reimagined. UNSSC went back to the drawing board, building upon the spirit and strengths of the original programme, and updated the UN Leaders Programme to fit the leadership challenges of the 21st Century. The UN Leaders programme was re-introduced in 2021 as an interactive online learning solution. The UN Leaders programme of today gives leaders an opportunity to explore leadership in the context of innovation, transformation, collaboration and resilience; reflecting on strong and successful leadership approaches and their application, and forging deeper connections with colleagues from across the international and UN system through peer exchange and collegial support. 

The complexities of today have made it evident that ‘Adaptive Leadership’ – a leadership approach that harnesses collective intelligence to address some of the most pressing, complex problems of our time – is critical now more than ever. Adaptive Leadership, along with UN system Leadership Framework, therefore, serve as the foundational leadership themes woven into the UN Leaders Programme.  

Through a combination of self-paced learning, peer exchanges, personalized executive coaching, individualized assessments, and interactions with leading experts, senior UN leaders continue to have an opportunity to put into practice the lessons learned, examine their leadership challenges, articulate the connection of their work to the UN’s mission, improve their ability to diagnose adaptive challenges, and lead the transformational change that is required of the UN.